50/50, directed by Jonathan Levine (The Wackness), is about a man named Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt–Inception) who is living a pretty good life until he finds out that he has a rare form of cancer and that he only has a 50% chance of living. Sinking into a depression, Kyle (Seth Rogan–Knocked Up), his best friend, becomes to determine to help him live out the remainder of his life the best he can and to take full advantage of this opportunity via sympathy sex. At the same time, Adam visits a therapist in training named Katherine (Anna Kendrick-Up in the Air) to help him cope with all the troubles in his life. 50/50 is about a man being completely unprepared for the travesty that has befallen him and the way he goes about coping with it.
For the most part, I really enjoyed this movie. I thought it was wholesome, good natured, and served a purpose other than to just entertain us. Yes there were tons of laughs but there were also very powerful and emotional moments that left people in tears. It is a tear jerker for sure but an uplifting one that shows the power of relationships and how important they can be when trying to keep people out of the dumps even if they feel their fate has already been sealed.
The film was written by Seth Rogan’s friend, Will Reiser, who based this script on his own personal experience with cancer. The fact that some of this is true adds a whole new dimension to the film, a real one that gives it the authentic human touch and allows you to truly connect to it on an emotional level. The film also gives you a perspective on what the emotional journey is like for people that find out they have cancer or some other potentially fatal illness. It’s that newfound perspective and enlightened feeling that I got from the film that made me truly appreciate it in its entirety and what distinguishes it from other dramedies.
When it comes down to the acting, Joseph Gordon-Levitt brought such an intense level of sensitivity to his role that it made you feel instantly sympathetic for his character as the bad news was being delivered to him. Levitt’s ability to nail his punch lines perfectly while maintaining his depressed state was quite impressive and, for me, one of the strongest aspects of the film aside from the script. While I can’t necessarily say the same for Rogan, he did bring a lot of the necessary comic relief into the film even though he is pretty much playing the same role we see him play in every movie. He is type casted but at least it works and works well within the various relationship realms of this film. As for the rest of the cast, Anna Kendrick nailed the role of the self-conscious, concerned and naïve therapist who slowly starts to fall for her third patient. She could be slightly annoying at times but she brought such an originally unintentional romantic charm to the film that it is tough not to like her from the get-go. Bryce Dallas Howard’s (The Help) role was small but she did a decent job of being a concerned girlfriend that simply let guilt get to her and transform her into a complete bitch.
Overall, 50/50 is worth checking out and may end up being one of your favorite films of the year. It’s a film that isn’t stupid or mindless but rather thought provoking, occasionally raunchy, and very relevant to many people around the world. With some great performances and an excellent script, 50/50 is a quality feature that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride you shan’t soon forget.
Rating: Comical, whimsical and full of heart (7.5/10)